November 3, 2020

Nellie King Solomon and Visions: Freedom with Barriers

Artist Nellie King Solomon hosts a Zoom workshop with Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation’s Visions teens. Screenshot: Scottsdale Arts.

Teen artists from Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation’s Visions program had the incredible opportunity to partake in a Zoom painting workshop with exhibiting artist Nellie King Solomon, of the current mother-daughter exhibition BEYOND: Works by Nellie King Solomon and Barbara Stauffacher Solomon at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA).

Nellie King Solomon (b. 1971, San Francisco) approaches painting with equal parts irreverence and admiration. The exhibition features recent and never-before-seen, large-scale works that use abstraction and realism to tell stories, resulting in experiential paintings. In lieu of canvas and brushes, King Solomon paints on the sharp industrial material of Mylar, using custom wood and glass tools for pulling the paint around in sweeping, gestural marks. Bold colors and unusual materials, like asphalt, swirl about, captivating the senses and revealing the tension between spontaneity and rigor at work in her practice. 

Two of King Solomon’s large works are pictured on exhibition at SMoCA: Magenta, 2013, and Breaking up the Concrete Cloud I, 2020. Photo: Grey Shed Studio.

Using simple supplies, such as sumi ink and gesso, King Solomon worked alongside advanced art students from Saguaro High School and Shadow Mountain High School to impart patience, intentionality, and purpose in their mark-making. The workshop was titled Freedom with Barriers and showed the students how the immediacy of a single mark with a minimal palette and working in multiples expresses their perception of the world and themselves.  

Nellie King Solomon demonstrates intentional mark-making techniques with Saguaro High School and Shadow Mountain High School students via Zoom. Screenshot: Scottsdale Arts.

The results were fascinating as Visions students created subtle barriers for their pieces that slowly evolved into different forms over the day-long workshop. King Solomon taught them how every element involved in making a piece has an impact on their decision-making and stylizing with their paintings, whether that be the tools they are using, the environment they are in, the emotion they want to evoke, or the physical parameters of the piece. 

Shadow Mountain High School student Sofia LaCosta’s work and progression. Screenshots: Scottsdale Arts.

While the pandemic has certainly had its downsides, hosting Zoom workshops has allowed Visions students to work with exemplary artists across geographical barriers. The students had an absolute blast working with Nellie and look forward to seeing her and her mother’s exhibition at SMoCA, on view until January 31, 2021. 

Visions paintings from the workshop with King Solomon. Screenshot: Scottsdale Arts.

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